Washington -- At universities with big-time football and basketball programs, professors know better than to step in front of the freight train of commercialized sports, a law school dean told the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics yesterday.
"They know they're going to get run over" if they try to push athletic reforms, said Gary Roberts, dean of the Indiana University School of Law and a former faculty athletics representative at Tulane. "So why bother?
"At the end of the day, this is the entertainment industry and not the education business, and the faculty doesn't have much to say about it," Roberts declared at a Faculty Summit on Intercollegiate Athletics.
Indeed, a survey of faculty members at Division I-A universities found that 62 percent see intercollegiate athletics as "structurally separate" from the academic part of their university. Half believe decisions in the athletic department are made "with minimal regard for their university's academic mission," but rather "are driven by the entertainment industry."
The findings were presented at an all-day meeting of the Knight Commission. The commission is made up of college presidents, conference officials, former athletes and coaches and other members of the intercollegiate sports community, and has pushed through reforms in major college sports.
Much of the faculty "is afraid this is a completely corrupt process and, if you get involved, you're going to get dirty," said Paul Haagen, a Duke University law professor and co-director of the school's Center for Sports Law and Policy.